Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Raspberry Pi launch falls flat

Well, the Raspberry Pi computer officially went on sale today, at 0600 GMT. Customers in the UK and Western Europe had to get up early for the launch; customers in the USA had to stay up late. It was a good time to do the launch: had they done it during business hours on either continent, they would have brought the entire worldwide Internet crashing down around them. As it is, three sites - their own, and two commercial ones - were completely overwhelmed and froze solid for the better part of an hour, and the computer sold out completely in less than a minute.

I think that the good folks at the Raspberry Pi Foundation underestimated both the demand and the enthusiasm for this product. They had some idea what would hit them: they were smart enough to sign up a couple of distributors with worldwide reach to manufacture and distribute the RasPi. But so many people wanted one of the first batch of 10,000 units that they crashed the Raspberry Pi Foundation's .org and .com servers, and they nearly crashed the servers at Premier Farnell and RS Components. I don't know about RS Components, but Farnell has an international presence, doing business as Newark on this side of the Pond, and as Element 14 on both sides of the Pond, and even the Element 14 webpage was having trouble.

According to the @RaspberryPi Twitter feed, Farnell sold out of their units in about one minute, and RS Components refuses to ship their units overseas.

While I am disappointed that I didn't get one of the first 10,000 units, I am pleased that the launch was so overwhelmingly successful. If the RPi Foundation had as much capital behind it as, say, Apple or Microsoft, and the manpower to match them, even if only for 24 hours, the launch would have gone more smoothly. But they're a small nonprofit organization, trying to do this on a shoestring budget.

By this time tomorrow, they'll have a bustling community of 10,000 users, with thousands more trying to get in. Let's hope that Farnell and RS get tooled up quickly, and that the Foundation recovers quickly from the shock and gets moving again.


Anonymous said...

Uhm, it's a bit inaccurate and to say it fell flat really doesn't reflect that actually it was an amazing success let down by the distributors.

The raspberry pi server switched to a static page at around 5:55 GMT to ensure it didn't go down and would cope with the load.

However the distributors seemed not to have listened to RPi about the level of traffic they were going to get. So big fail by them but a big win for the RPi charity.

Lets not forget what they are and what their aims are. These sales help get future units into the hands of school children to get them interested in development.

Zyzmog said...

True, but only "a bit" inaccurate. It was the Internet equivalent of a department-store mob on the day that the next Teddy Ruxpin goes on sale. Less than a minute after sales officially opened, there were ten thousand happy customers and hundreds of thousands of trustrated would-be customers.